1 0 Posts with the tag: Mexico
post icon

Crossing Borders

Posted by on March 4th, 2012 6 Comments

While taking a few simple pedal strokes from one state or country into the next may not change the scenery at all, to a long distance bicycle tourist, it marks a major milestone and sense of accomplishment – as well as a new burst excitement and energy for the trip as a whole. We felt this when we crossed the Mississippi in the first month of our trip, when we reached the Pacific Coast in the Fall, when we crossed into Mexico near Christmas – and even more so entering Guatemala, our first Central American country, a few days ago.

February 15 2012 DSC 7405 548x232 Crossing Borders

We had been counting down the days until the Guatemalan border throughout our last week in Mexico. We cruised through our last day in the state of Oaxaca, heading towards the state of Chiapas over flat roads and through fields of wind farms – both of which are usually a clear indication of one of our worst enemies – strong headwinds. But not on this day! Fortunately for us, the windmills stood still as we rode by at a healthy 25km per hour, covering the distance from Juchitan to Zanatepec in record time. Here we were warmly greeted by Warmshowers hosts Rodrigo and Lupita and their two young sons Ethan (3) and Mateo (1). The four of them took us around their town that evening – Eden and Harper especially loved the children’s activities in the Centro such as a trampoline and electric toy cars they could ride around in circles. Mexican towns and cities really come alive at night, so this was something we truly enjoyed as we rarely explore much after sunset.

…continue reading this post »

post icon

The Oaxacan Coast

Posted by on February 14th, 2012 7 Comments
February 08 2012 DSC 7294 548x260 The Oaxacan Coast

La Punta, steps from our Cabana at Buena Onda

We’ve been eyeing Puerto Escondido for quite some time as a destination ahead of us on our maps, but it wasn’t until I read a bit about this coastal city in the guidebook that I yearned to take a few days off there. We discovered this city has the best of all worlds for a Mexican beach town: an eclectic population of tourists – we’ve been getting used to hanging out with Canadian surfers along the coast, but here there are a good mix of visitors from many European countries and Australia; excellent food from a variety of different ethnic cuisines; it is big enough to have services like banks, grocery stores, and lodging and food options, yet small enough to have a relaxed atmosphere – and fortunately free of the busy resorts we have seen frequently down the coast. It seemed like the balance here was just right for us, as previous towns always seemed to lack something: like Nexpa, which felt a little small and had no internet access or decent grocery stores; or Puerto Vallarta, which was too big and overwhelming at times; or Sayulita, which seemed a little inflated price-wise. Puerto Escondido has three different beaches which feature one of the top 10 surfing spots in the world, scuba diving, snorkeling and swimming, and the sand is the cleanest we’ve encountered so far with fewer hawkers, more room, and less noise.

We’ve been using Lonely Planet’s Mexico guidebook, which has been fantastic so far at recommending places to stay. We typically stay at the most budget end of the spectrum and their recommendation here was our favourite so far – Cabanas Buena Onda. Set right on the beach in Zicatela, a small community a few miles south of the city itself, this place was a little paradise! Lush greenery provides a lot of privacy. Clean bathrooms where the toilets have seats (yay!) and a communal kitchen. The camping area is excellent, and the cabanas are exceptionally clean and come with 2 hammocks and a set of table and chairs out front. There are just enough restaurants in the area to try out, such as an Italian crepe café and a wood-fired pizzeria – all offering delicious, well-priced food. There’s also laundry just around the corner where they line dried our wool clothes for us! The colectivo taxi route passes by the front door of Buena Onda, which we used to get into town to explore a bit and resupply for the next leg of our journey.

…continue reading this post »

post icon

Choose your own adventure

Posted by on February 6th, 2012 4 Comments
January 14 2012 DSC 6755 548x332 Choose your own adventure

Views along the Michoacan coast

The long Pacific coast of Mexico has been treating us well these past few weeks. We were within sight of the ocean every single day in January, and thus we’ve had more beach camping and shady hangouts under palapas than we ever thought we would on this bike tour. We’ve been spending a great deal of our time at surf hangouts and RV parks full of Canadian snowbirds, as well as overnighting in small Mexican villages when the road has taken us away from the beach. The scenery has varied from lush green jungle and palm trees, to stretches of lonely road along Highway 200 full undulating hills, to countless empty riverbeds in the dry foothills of the Sierra Madre.

January 15 2012 DSC 6771 548x362 Choose your own adventure

Going back to New Years Day, we spent a few nights just steps from the beach in San Blas. After many kilometers spent on the hot and flat toll road from Mazatlan, we were ready for a few days of rest and relaxation. This is where we first encountered sand fleas – a tiny beach bug that carries a nasty bite with an itch worse than a mosquito. We were nursing our numerous red speckled legs and arms for weeks afterwards and would encounter these pests quite a few times going forward.

…continue reading this post »

post icon

Answering questions from strangers

Posted by on January 23rd, 2012 13 Comments

Rolling through numerous small towns each day for the last eight months, we encounter a lot of new people, and they are often very curious about our journey. Most of the time the questions asked are pretty much identical, and fired off in roughly the same order. The most frequent questions being:

  • Where are you going?
  • Where have you come from?
  • Do the kids like it?

The first two are easy, and if you are reading here, you already know the answers. The last one is a bit different, and I’m still trying to figure out what people really want to know or what their intentions truly are in asking. Half the time, the question is directed to Eden, who usually gets shy and turns away quietly or burrows her head into my leg without answering. Later, when I ask her privately if she’s having fun or likes the bike trip, she smiles and nods. One of our bedtime routines is a daily review, discussing all the things we did that day. At the end, I ask her what her favourite part of the day was, and usually she can’t pick just one thing.

August 26 2011 DSC 3729 548x362 Answering questions from strangers

Exploring a chicken coop in Paonia, Colorado

…continue reading this post »

post icon

A Whole New Adventure

Posted by on January 14th, 2012 7 Comments

“Culture shock is the anxiety, feelings of frustration, alienation and anger that may occur when a person is placed in a new culture.”

I’m not new to the idea of culture shock – yet each time I enter a new country, it hits me entirely differently. Years ago, I spent time in the Middle East as well as in South Africa and Zimbabwe. This time, however, things are different. In the past I had traveled with experienced people who helped with negotiating transportation and food, and translated the foreign languages when needed. This time I don’t have a translator – I have my husband and two little kids who are as clueless as I am. Reuben and I started doing the first in a series of beginner’s Spanish lessons on our computer (which we should have, of course, started before entering Mexico), which teaches arcane phrases like ‘the cat is on the table,’ coming nowhere near what you need to know to negotiate travel or a stay in a hotel or order food. Once we crossed the border we truly felt like we had started a whole new adventure – a completely different bike tour than the one we had been on for the last seven months. And at some points during this introduction to Mexico, we felt way out of our comfort zone – and unsure if we wanted to be on this ‘new’ bike tour at all.

December 30 2011 DSC 6616 548x362 A Whole New Adventure

The most abundant shade on the 200km section of toll highway we rode was under the overpasses.

December 29 2011 DSC 6603 548x362 A Whole New Adventure

Snack time under a deserted roadside palapa

It was difficult. It was frustrating. And we were homesick. Christmas and New Years came and went, only accentuating those feelings. We were irritable and we suddenly felt very tired every day – so many new experiences, so many new adjustments. And we could have easily packed it up then and gone home – or at least back to familiar territory where we would be safe and comfortable.

…continue reading this post »